ADOPTS WITH AMENDMENTS:

NFPA 101, 2018

Heads up: There are no amended sections in this chapter.

This annex is not a part of the requirements of this NFPA document but is included for informational purposes only. Information in this annex is intended to be adopted by the jurisdiction at the discretion of the adopting jurisdiction. Additionally, information in this annex is intended to be incorporated on a voluntary basis by building owners and developers who might have a desire to include supplemental evacuation equipment in their projects.

Although this annex is written in mandatory language, it is not intended to be enforced or applied unless specifically adopted by the jurisdiction or, if it is being applied on a voluntary basis, by the building owner or developer.

Note: Traditionally, supplemental evacuation equipment has not been regulated or recognized by the Code. Until recently, such equipment was considered to include only items such as chain ladders and rope fire escape ladders for use in single-family homes. The criteria specified in Annex B also provides no regulation or recognition for the private installation and use of such equipment by an owner and family, while providing a framework of regulations for the use of controlled descent devices and platform rescue systems in commercial and residential multistory buildings. The broader term supplemental evacuation equipment provides for subsets of equipment to be added as further technologies develop.

A system operating on the exterior of a building or structure that lowers one or two people per descent, each wearing a rescue harness, at a controlled rate from an upper level to the ground or other safe location.
An enclosed platform, or set of enclosed platforms, moving vertically along guides or other means on the exterior of a building or structure, intended for the evacuation of multiple occupants from an upper level or levels to the ground or other safe location, that has the capability of transporting emergency responders to upper levels of a building.
Dedicated equipment that supplements the means of egress or means of escape for exiting a building or structure.

Note: Supplemental escape devices and systems are not a substitute for the required means of egress or means of escape. If properly installed, maintained, and used, controlled descent devices and platform rescue systems might provide an added means of escape for the occupants where the required means of egress or means of escape is not usable or accessible, and where the event that has caused failure of the required system has not also impaired the functionality of the device or system itself.

Devices or systems that are not a part of the required means of egress or escape, but that might enhance use of the means of egress or escape, or provide an alternate to the means of egress or escape.
A supplemental escape device or system, other than that provided or installed for use by the owner and owner's family, and the installation of such device or system, shall comply with Section B.3 or Section B.4, as appropriate, and the following criteria:

Note: The provisions of Section B.2 are not intended to preclude the installation of supplemental escape devices or systems that do not meet these requirements where intended for personal use, such as by an owner and family.

It should be recognized that supplemental escape devices or systems addressed by these requirements are intended to be used only when all other means of egress are unusable and when remaining in place to await the restoration of the means of egress is considered untenable.

Generally, fire departments have the capability of providing external rescue of building occupants within reach of their portable ladders, aerial ladders, and aerial platform devices. Where a fire department responds to a building emergency and has the capability to provide timely assistance with external rescue, that assistance should be used instead of the supplemental escape devices or systems.

  1. Each supplemental escape device or system shall be of an approved type and shall comply with an approved product safety standard.
  2. The installation of escape devices or systems shall be approved. Note: Use of a supplemental escape device or system typically requires that a window or exterior door be opened. The window or door should be closed, except when it is in use for escape. Where the design of the building does not provide exterior doors or operable windows and a window must be broken to use the device or system, consideration should be given to the probable effect of that action, such as showering the emergency response personnel and equipment below with sharp pieces of glass. In such a situation, to obtain approval, it might be appropriate to require tempered safety glass on windows that must be broken to deploy the supplemental escape device and access the system.
  3. The supplemental escape device or system shall be installed, inspected, tested, maintained, and used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  4. The location of each supplemental escape system access point shall be identified with a readily visible sign complying with the following:
    1. The sign shall be in plainly legible letters that read SUPPLEMENTAL ESCAPE DEVICE.
    2. The minimum height of the lettering shall be 3/4 in. (19 mm), with a stroke width of 1/8 in. (3 mm).
  5. Each sign required by B.2(4) shall comply with the following:
    1. The sign shall include the following in plainly legible letters: "Use only when exits are not accessible and building evacuation is imperative, as directed by authorized building personnel or emergency responders."
    2. The minimum height of the lettering shall be 1/2 in. (13 mm).
  6. A sign with instructions for use of the escape device or system shall be provided and shall comply with the following:
    1. The sign shall be posted at the equipment and the equipment's access location.
    2. The minimum height of lettering on the instructions shall be 1/2 in. (13 mm).
    3. Pictographs demonstrating use of the escape device or system shall be provided. Note: Given the nature of the probable circumstances surrounding its deployment, the proper use of the supplemental escape device or system should be readily apparent to the user or trained operator.
  7. The signs and instructions specified in B.2(4), (5), and (6) shall be illuminated as follows:
    1. The signs shall be continuously illuminated while the building is occupied.
    2. The level of illumination provided shall be in accordance with 7.10.6.3, 7.10.7.2, or an approved equivalent.
  8. Where emergency lighting is required by Chapters 11 through 43, it shall be provided as follows:
    1. The illumination shall be in accordance with 7.9.1.
    2. The level of illumination required by 7.9.2.1 shall be provided to illuminate the supplemental escape device or system at its access location and the required signage.
  9. The supplemental escape device or system and its installation shall accommodate persons with various disabilities and of all ages. Note: It is not the intent of B.2(9) that access ramps, doorways, controls, signage, and other features of the supplemental escape device or system meet all requirements for accessibility for persons with disabilities. The equipment is supplemental in nature and is not recognized as part of the required means of egress. A number of other occupants should be trained to assist persons with disabilities to access the equipment. In selecting the equipment and approving the installation, consideration should be given to how persons with mobility impairments will access the equipment. Even when exit stairs are usable, elevators might not be able to be used. Use of a supplemental escape device or system to evacuate persons with mobility impairments might be desirable. Such circumstances should be considered and incorporated into the facility's evacuation plan, which should also identify the trained operators authorized to deploy the equipment for such use.
  10. The installation shall be approved such that use of the supplemental escape device or system shall not cause any harm or injury to the user, operator, or others who might be in the vicinity of the equipment when in use.
  11. Where an evacuation plan is required by Chapters 11 through 43, or by other regulation, an approved, written evacuation plan shall be provided as follows:
    1. The plan shall be in accordance with 4.8.2.
    2. The plan shall not rely on the use of supplemental escape devices and systems but shall accommodate the use of such a system by specifying the following:
      1. Role of the supplemental escape device or system in the overall plan
      2. Role and authority of emergency response personnel with respect to the supplemental escape device or system
      3. Person or persons authorized to direct the deployment of, and to operate, the escape device or system
      4. Special considerations, if any, that affect the usability of the supplemental escape device or system
      5. Training required for operators and users
    3. Note: An evacuation plan can be a highly effective tool in determining who should be evacuated under various scenarios and how that evacuation will be accomplished. Even where none is required, an evacuation plan is recommended to identify, among other things, those persons who are authorized to deploy supplemental escape devices and systems. The more sophisticated the equipment and the greater the number of potential evacuees, the greater is the need to have a trained and authorized person decide which equipment to deploy and when it should be deployed, based on the circumstances at the time. Such a person would be the incident commander, typically the emergency response officer in charge, whether from a private brigade or public service. Even where a building or facility is not required to have an approved evacuation plan by the Code, the supplemental escape device or system operating procedures should be integrated into the building evacuation and emergency procedures to the extent provided.
  12. User and operator training shall be provided in conjunction with the installation of the supplemental escape device or system, and periodically thereafter.
  13. Where an approved evacuation plan is required, training shall be provided in accordance with the approved plan.
  14. The supplemental escape device or system shall be inspected and tested in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions but not less frequently than annually, and the following also shall apply:
    1. Notification of testing shall be provided to building occupants or the authority having jurisdiction, as appropriate.
    2. Written records of the inspection and testing shall be maintained by the owner for a minimum of 1 year after the next scheduled inspection and testing. Note: It is important that the supplemental escape device or system does not remain idle for many years in order to help ensure that it will be functional if it does need to be used. The manufacturer's instructions for the particular model of equipment involved should be followed.
  15. Supplemental escape devices and systems shall be listed, certified, or approved to operate as intended over the prevalent climatic conditions for the location in which they are installed.
Where platform rescue systems are installed or provided, they shall comply with the following:
  1. The platform rescue system shall comply with ASTM E2513, Standard Specification for Multi-Story Building External Evacuation Platform Rescue Systems, or an approved, equivalent product safety standard.
  2. The platform rescue system shall be deployed with trained operators to assist with evacuation of occupants.
  3. Where a fixed installation of electrical or other type power is required to operate the platform rescue system, a redundant source of power shall be provided.
  4. The installation shall be designed such that the vertical distance to be traversed by the platform rescue system shall not exceed the limit specified in the product's listing, certification, or approved installation.
  5. The platform access from within buildings shall be by ramps or stairs, and the following also shall apply:
    1. Portable ramps and stairs shall be permitted.
    2. The maximum slope of a ramp shall be as low as practical, but shall not be required to be less than 1 in 8.
    3. The maximum riser height of stairs shall be 9 in. (230 mm).
    4. The minimum tread depth of stairs shall be 9 in. (230 mm).
  6. The platform access opening shall be sized in accordance with the following:
    1. For installations in new construction, the platform access opening shall be a minimum 32 in. (810 mm) in width and a minimum 48 in. (1220 mm) in height.
    2. For installations in existing construction, the platform access opening shall be as large as practical but shall not be required to exceed 32 in. (810 mm) in width and 48 in. (1220 mm) in height.
  7. The platform access and egress shall not be by ladders.
  8. Rooftop operating equipment and systems shall be protected from accumulations of climatic ice or snow and fire suppression ice.
Where controlled descent devices are installed or provided, they shall comply with the following:
  1. The controlled descent device shall comply with ASTM E2484, Standard Specification for Multi-Story Building External Evacuation Controlled Descent Devices, or an approved, equivalent product safety standard.
  2. The installation shall be designed such that the vertical distance to be traversed by the controlled descent device shall not exceed the limit specified in the product's listing, certification, or approved installation.
  3. Where a fixed installation of electrical or other type power is required to operate the controlled descent device, a redundant source of power shall be provided.
  4. Rooftop operating equipment and systems shall be protected from accumulations of climatic ice or snow and fire suppression ice.
  5. Controlled descent device building access openings in new building installations shall be a minimum of 32 in. (810 mm) wide and 42 in. (1065 mm) high.
  6. Controlled descent device building access openings in existing buildings shall be a minimum of 20 in. (510 mm) wide and 24 in. (610 mm) high and shall provide a clear opening of not less than 5.7 ft2 (0.53 m2).
  7. The approved occupant load and weight limits shall be posted adjacent to the controlled descent device installation or building access opening in minimum 1/2 in. (13 mm) letters, with a minimum 1/16 in. (1.6 mm) stroke.
  8. The occupant load and weight limits shall not be exceeded in use.
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